It’s funny how easily we can become stuck in a rut and I know that is especially true of me when it comes to fashion.  For the past 10 years I have stayed with a style which worked for me; the invention of skinny jeans became my look and for as long as I can remember I have been a ‘skinny jeans and tee’ kind of girl.  A lot of that has to do with having the kids and finding that I didn’t have time to do anything other than throw on something simple, but also because it allowed me to be comfortable whilst running around and getting down on my hands and knees to play.  Although I have lost the knee from many a great pair of jeans that way too!

Recently however I have begun to feel the need to shake things up a little.  I wanted to stretch my every day looks and try new things; be a little braver in my clothing choices and although what I have been trying out is by no means revolutionary…it’s quite a step for me.  This stepping out also includes changing up my hair which is a massive deal as I have had the same hairstyle for well over a decade *cough*

I don’t want to say that it was connected to my turning 30, or that there was any one thing which prompted my decision but just recently I have been making different choices with my clothing.  I mean, I still have 5 or 6 pairs of trusty skinny jeans lined up and waiting but I’ve also been including dresses, shirts, cropped pants, and cropped tees into my every day as well.

primark floral trousers

next striped dress

It has been a lot of fun playing around with different looks, finding that I don’t want to stick to one particular style but that I actually get like changing things around.  Where one day I might dress quite casually in a slub dress and sandals, the next I might opt for a stylish shirt and tailored trousers.  Don’t get me wrong; I am never going to be a fashion vlogger and I will always, always be more Primark than Prada but I think I am getting into my stride and I am pleased that I am no longer just opting for what is easy.

It also definitely helps that I have more time to get ready in a morning now.  I am not a morning person and there is no way on earth I will get up earlier than I need to so not having to run around getting the kids ready gives me more time to plan out what I want to wear each day.  It’s lovely that the kids have a little more independence in getting themselves ready and that allows some ‘me’ time in a morning too.  It also definitely helps that I am less likely to be chasing down an errant child and in need of practical clothing although that does still happen on occasion.

yellow floral dress

And I’m not quite a convert just yet.  There is just something so comforting about a good pair of skinny jeans which even the prettiest dress can’t quite match…

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Cast your mind back to the beginning of the year; remember when I said we were planning on keeping our heads down and having a quiet year…those have quickly become famous last words!  I feel like we are ricocheting from one thing to the next at the moment with no sign of things slowing down.  It’s partly why I really enjoy sitting down and writing these posts.  I can capture our month, look back and reflect and remember that amongst all the chaos we do make some amazing memories at the same time.

June kicked off with possibly one of my favourite trips, ever.  We were invited to explore the island of Guernsey for the weekend by Condor Ferries.  It was a total whirlwind of three days with barely any down-time as we wanted to really squeeze every second we could from our time there but it was definitely worth it.  Not only did we have a great time, but Guernsey isn’t a place we’d necessarily have thought about visiting before but I’m so pleased we did.  If you ever get the chance to go, snap it up.  You won’t regret it.

rousse tower cannon guernsey

Pirate Cove Guernsey

Meg gets a special mention this month too as she headed to a local sports tournament with her school, called Quad Kids.  It was held at the nearby university and involved the children taking part in four different sports, including the 400m for Meg’s age group.  I was quite surprised when school asked her if she’d be willing to take part, and she said yes.  Meg is absolutely brilliant at gymnastics, and in fact, most sports that she takes part in.  We have been asked a number of times for her to compete in things; her gym club constantly wants to put her forward for stuff, when she went swimming her instructor asked us to put her into galas and so on but what she lacks is a sense of competitiveness.  She doesn’t cope well under pressure either so I was absolutely gobsmacked when she took her place at the starting line for the 400m and then proceeded to fly around the track.  I’d honestly thought she’d hold back and not push herself.  I was gutted for her (BIG sense of competitiveness over in my corner…) because she was out in front the whole time and just got pipped to first place at the last minute but I was so proud of her for giving her all.  I would never want to push Meg to be something she isn’t, but to see her try her best, really try her best, was a brilliant moment.

Along the lines of sport, I can’t avoid mentioning the World Cup, which is currently taking over our lives.  I don’t mind really; I tend to only watch big football tournaments and I have been known to get quite competitive about it but this is the first year that Meg and Eli are really interested and it has brought a whole new element to the watching experience.  Eli in particular is feeling all the emotions about England and it’s hard to not keep reminding him to not get his hopes up.  This is England after all!  Yet at the same time, surely anything could happen?!  I won’t pretend to be an authority on the subject but I do think we have as fair a shot as anyone this time.

We’ve also been blessed with some absolutely stunning weather this month in the UK.  I keep waking up thinking that today will be the day the rain clouds return but so far we’ve just had glorious sunshine and blue skies.  Both kids have got tan lines from their school uniforms and James has been working hard to clear the garden so they can be outside soaking up every moment.  He recently cleared a mountain of ivy from the side of our garage and it once again brought home the scale of the project we’ve taken on here; everything has just been left and it means a whole lot of work for us.  I try to tell myself often that it will be worth it though!

I’ll end our round-up with a quick mention of my latest addition.  I have wanted another tattoo since I had my first done, about 6 years ago but I know what a slippery slope it can be so I decided to wait until I was absolutely sure of what I wanted.  In the end it still came to a quick decision between two but I love the one I have ended up with.  One of my all-time favourite bookish quotes is from The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S.Lewis.  It is ‘courage dear heart’ and the tattoo has been inspired by that.  I’ve been asked a few times whether it hurt and whilst it wasn’t comfortable, it’s so fine and delicate that it only took a couple of minutes.

This post contains a sponsored link.  However all thoughts, words, and opinions remain my own.
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Imagine an island which has stunning scenery as far as the eye can see, rugged clifftops and long stretches of sandy beach at almost every turn and you’ve just about summed Guernsey up in a nutshell.  When we were invited to visit the Channel Islands by Condor Ferries, we genuinely didn’t know what to expect.  The Channel Islands weren’t somewhere we would necessarily have considered visiting before; if you’d invited me to take a ferry trip I’d automatically think of visiting France.  I’m sure I’m not the only one to feel like this but having been and experienced the delights of Guernsey, I can honestly recommend it as a place worth visiting.

Leaving the Port of Poole behind on a grey and cloudy June morning, we set sail aboard the Condor Liberation; Condor’s flagship ferry.  It takes 3 hours to reach Guernsey and the boat follows a route which goes from Poole to St Malo via Guernsey and Jersey, and then back again.  Boarding was an absolute breeze with our e-tickets and we had pre-booked seats in Ocean Plus which was accessed through use of a code given to us on arrival.  There are wide windows everywhere you look in the Ocean Plus lounge and I imagine on a less foggy day the views would be panoramic and breathtaking.  As it was, we could see very little until we began to reach the islands and the sky cleared.  Both Meg and Eli preferred to be out on deck, despite the brisk weather, so I got to enjoy the peace and quiet of the lounge whilst James braved the elements with the children.  Our journey was relatively stress-free although Eli suffered with seasickness on the way out.  I have to say thank you to the member of staff who came back to check on us when I was stuck in the toilets with him, and to the two ladies who were very concerned that I not be there for the three hours!  Luckily, we picked up some wristbands from the on-board duty free which we used to coax him out of his toilet cubicle and we used these on the way back as well, meaning we had no trouble at all on our return.

Condor Liberation

First view of St Peter's Port

Seasick episode aside, the three hours flew by and when we began to dock at St Peter’s Port we were greeted with sunshine and beautiful blue skies.  We had definitely left the miserable English weather behind!  This was our first introduction to life in the Channel Islands; on every corner you see a unique combination of Franglaise culture and it began for us with the sudden turn in the weather.  St Peter’s Port is a bustling and busy part of the island and is considered one of the prettiest harbour towns in Europe.  With its cobbled streets and picturesque marina, it’s not difficult to see why.

We had just over two days to spend exploring Guernsey, from our arrival at midday on Friday until our ferry back to England at 2pm on Sunday and we planned to make the most of it.  Determined to hit the ground running, as much as we would have loved to hang around and explore the Port our first stop once we alighted was to check into our hotel which was located on the north side of the island in Vale.

We were staying in The Peninsula Hotel in a family room.  The room was light and bright with sufficient space for a family of four.  I have to admit that when we travel we don’t usually stay in hotels; we prefer accommodation which offers a separate living and bedroom area so that we can chill at the end of the evening, whilst Meg and Eli sleep and I was initially worried about the problems with getting the kids to sleep whilst James and I were pottering about but we were all so exhausted each night that we tended to crash as soon as we made it back to our room, so this really wasn’t an issue.

Peninsula Hotel Guernsey

After check-in, we decided to spend an hour exploring the area immediately surrounding the Peninsula.  The hotel is just a short walk from the Rousse Headland so that is where we headed, indulging in some real Guernsey ice cream along the way.  Rousse Headland is on the north-west of the island and is home to a Napoleonic loop-holed tower, a kiosk selling drinks, snacks, and most importantly ice cream!, a beach and a small harbour area.  There weren’t many people about during our visit but we did pass a number of walkers.  A little playing on the pebbled beach here and a quick scout of the nearby Rousse Tower was sufficient and we made our way back to the hotel to enjoy the rest of the sunshine by making use of the Peninsula’s outdoor pool.  Our weather app (reliably it turned out) informed us that our first afternoon in Guernsey was going to be the only day with any sunshine so we really wanted to make the most of the sun’s rays whilst we had the chance.

A few hours wearing the kids out in the pool and then it was off to Cobo Beach; our most recommended destination.  We were told by several people we know, and a number of people on the ferry, that watching the sun set on Cobo Beach was an absolute must.  And I would have to agree!  Parking was something of an issue as it was very busy, with the outdoor area of the nearby Cobo Bay Hotel absolutely rammed with people; we ended up parking a 5 minute walk from the beach.  We also had to queue for quite a while to get food from Cobo Fish Bar (although it was totally worth it; I have been ruined for chips and gravy ever since!) but we had the beach almost entirely to ourselves and it was wholly worthwhile to relax on the golden sands and watch the sun go down.  It may have only been our first night but watching the kids play happy and carefree, silhouetted against the beautiful backdrop of the shoreline was definitely a highlight of the trip for us.

rousse tower cannon guernsey

Rousse Headland

Sunset Cobo Beach Guernsey

sun set on cobo beach

giggling cobo beach

The island of Guernsey is perhaps best known for its German occupation in the Second World War (and especially thanks to the popularity of one of my FAVOURITE books which is now a movie) and there is evidence of this occupation almost everywhere you go.  But there is also an older history to the island if you want to go back even further.  On Saturday we headed to the south of the island towards the Pleinmont Headland and Table des Pions, otherwise known as the ‘Fairy Ring’ which hails back to the 1830s when it was used as a dugout picnic bench (kind of…) by officials who were inspecting coastal defences.

One of the things which struck us most during our trip was the fact that there was plenty to see and do, no matter what the weather was up to. You could be active, or take it easy, enjoy some sight-seeing or just keep the kids entertained for an hour or two.  And being on such a small island meant that you were never more than 20 minutes drive from anything.  It’s probably a good time to leave a small note on the roads in Guernsey; we decided to drive rather than use public transport, and it’s worth bearing in mind that they have slightly different road rules to the UK.  There is an interesting ‘give-way’ system which is called a ‘filter in turn’ system; at these junctions all vehicles have the same priority.  A large number of the roads we went on were also only about a lane and a half wide and we regularly had to mount the pavement to pass on-coming traffic.  It’s generally okay if you take it slow, but I’m glad James was there to do the driving as I don’t think it would be for the hesitant motorist!

Parking is also rather quaint; all public parking in Guernsey is free.  However there are various zones known as ‘disc zones’ around the island and drivers have to use a parking clock to indicate time of arrival.  There are different time limits in different zones and these are clearly marked, from 1 hour through to 15+ hours.

Portelet Beach Guernsey

Looking over Portelet Beach

lighthouse portelet beach

We squeezed in visits to the German occupation museum, the Guernsey Aquarium, The Little Chapel, Cornet Castle and Pirate Bay Adventure Golf as well as a return visit to Cobo Beach.  I could go into so much detail about each and every place we went to but there has to be a limit to my word count somewhere!  On Sunday morning we explored the bunting-strewn streets of St Peter’s Port: each Sunday in the summer months they have a themed market.  On the Sunday we were there the theme was ‘Arts’ and although the weather was against us it was lovely to see some local talent on display.  Even reading that list makes me feel like we managed a lot and yet we left feeling as though we had only scratched the surface of everything this wonderful little island has to offer.  If we were lucky enough to return then I would definitely want to explore some of the picturesque gardens or book a guided bike tour with Donkey Tours; we enquired about booking a tour but there was no availability for our dates.  I can’t say cycling in the mist would have been the best way to see the island but on a clear day I imagine it would be a fantastic and fun way to experience Guernsey through the eyes of a local.

Eli looking into fish tank Guernsey Aquarium

Little Chapel Guernsey

Castle Cornet Cannon

With soldier castle cornet

Pirate Bay Adventure Golf Guernsey

Pirate Bay Adventure Golf Stocks

St Peter's Port Market Summer

St Peter's Port flag street

Then of course I can’t finish talking about our short break without mentioning the food.  Guernsey is a seafood lovers heaven.  As I mentioned above, we ate at Cobo Fish Bar the first night but two other places I wanted to specifically mention are the Terrace Garden Café which has impressive views over St Peter’s Port as well as delicious Thai food, and Crabby Jack’s which is a real must for families, although be sure to book a table in advance.  We ate here on Saturday evening and it was absolutely packed to the rafters.  We ended up being seated outside which we actually didn’t mind because the play area is outside but if you want to be indoors then you should bear this in mind.  And of course you have to sample real Guernsey ice cream; it certainly got the seal of approval from Meg and Eli, who couldn’t even stop themselves from eating whilst we captured it on camera!

Pizza at Crabby Jack's

Terrace Garden Cafe Guernsey

The final thought I want to leave you with, was the friendliness of the people.  I was struck by how welcoming and chatty everyone was.  The whole island has an almost ‘small village’ feel to it and it creates a relaxed and ambient vibe which permeates through everything.  From being stopped on the street by someone who wanted to know where James’ coat was from to having people engage with the kids when we were visiting tourist attractions or just buying our lunch, there’s such a friendly atmosphere and it really brought an added element of enjoyment to our visit.

I am certain this won’t be our last visit to the Channel Islands and a huge thank you to Condor Ferries for inviting us along, organising our trip and inspiring such a fun adventure for us all.

We were provided with a short break to Guernsey by Condor Ferries for the purpose of this post.  However all thoughts and opinions are our own.
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As you may know if you’ve been around for a while, we bought our first home in August 2017 and we have slowly been making our way through the house renovating and redecorating each room.  At the moment we have a funny mix of original carpets and brand new carpets; both of which come with their own issues.  Are the original carpets really all that clean?  How can we keep our new carpets looking good when we have two children, a dog and just the general comings and goings of family life?  Not to mention the fact that we have workmen in and out of the house every time we have a DIY job which needs doing and the list goes on….

So when Rug Doctor got in touch to ask whether we would be interested in trying out and reviewing their portable spot cleaner, along with some of their other cleaning products, I jumped at the chance.  You can skip to the bottom if you prefer to watch a video of us trying out the products or read on for a more in-depth look.

I was familiar with the brand ‘Rug Doctor’ having seen it in a number of different home stores, usually with machines available for hire.  It was something we had talked about looking into quite a few times but we just never got round to doing it.  I hadn’t realised that you could purchase their products, or that they would make a smaller, handier version for the odd stain and mark, rather than a heavy duty deep cleaner.  Which is exactly what the Portable Spot Cleaner is all about.

Our first test of the Spot Cleaner was on Eli’s carpet.  About a week after Eli had his brand new carpet laid, he dropped some alien slime and left a dark mark.  We had used generic carpet cleaning products to try and lift it but there was a shadow where the slime had been.  One quick whoosh of the Spot Cleaner and the carpet looks brand new.  In fact, the colour of the water made me feel a bit queasy as he hasn’t had the carpet all that long…how on earth could it be so dirty already?!

We tried the Spot Cleaner in a number of other places in the house and on the car upholstery as well.  It is not the lightest cleaner to move around; I’ll admit that I found carrying the base up and down the stairs quite tricky but it’s no heavier than our vacuum cleaner which I also have the same issues with!  But this might be something to bear in mind if you find it difficult to carry heavier items around the home. I did find that it was very easy to put together and once it’s in place it has a retractable handle and hose giving you that extra reach.  The motorised hand tool has been created to get down deep into the fibres and really work out those stains and I found it very straightforward to use.

It was also really easy to set up and add the cleaning product to; and I was honestly very impressed.  We even tried it out on some pen stains which had been left by one of the kids on our white sofa (I would heartily recommend not buying a light coloured sofa if you have children FYI) and although it didn’t lift it completely, the difference was incredible.  I feel like, had we been able to use the Spot Cleaner as soon as it happened rather than 6/7 months later it would have taken it right off.  We also tried it on the sofa with some chocolate which had been there a couple of days…thanks kids…and that cleaned completely away.

We also tried and tested a couple of other products; the Rug Doctor Spot & Stain Foam Cleaner came in handy a few times when the kids trampled mud through the house by not taking off their wellies at the front door (a real hazard when it comes to having carpet in your hallway I find!) but the foam cleaner was super easy to apply.  You have to leave it to do its magic for a couple of hours before vacuuming the carpet but it worked a real treat.

The Spot & Stain Remover Wipes also came in handy when Meg managed to spill a cup of tea once or twice on the stairs.  I think that both the wipes and the foam cleaner would be perfect to have on hand at all times, as you can easily get them out and use them immediately when a spill or stain happens, something which is inevitable in any busy household.

I can also definitely see the benefit of investing in the Spot Cleaner, especially when you have children and/or pets.  Being able to immediately and effectively deal with a spill or stain will help keep carpets in good condition which is especially important because I can now attest to how expensive carpets actually are, so they are something you will want to be long-lasting!

You can purchase the Rug Doctor Portable Spot Cleaner for £154.99

We were provided with a Rug Doctor Portable Spot Cleaner and some cleaning products for the purpose of this post.  All thoughts and opinions are my own. This is a sponsored post.
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Summer is the time of year when people begin to think about taking long road trips; maybe to go and visit family and friends or to travel somewhere new.  In fact, we have just returned from a long driving trip ourselves so I am speaking from personal experience!

This is a sponsored post…read on for more tips:-

When you’ve invested time and money in planning a trip, organised and packed up your stuff up and even got to the stage of starting to feel excited about your break away (albeit perhaps not at the thought of long hours spent in the car with the kids!) the last thing you want to be faced with is pulling over at the side of the road, watching the other cars speed by, all because you forgot to do a little maintenance before setting off.  All of the tips I will include in my list are so simple to do, and yet it’s often our cars which fall to the bottom of the ‘to-do’ list when planning out trips.  It’s something I can understand: who wants to worry about fluid levels when they could be dreaming of the beach?  And yet, it’s so important.  We are lucky in that we’ve never yet been in that situation but I wanted to create this post in case it prompts you to run a few checks before your next trip, and potentially save any heartache.

Not only that but hopefully these tips will potentially save you money down the line, because you will be keeping your car in good condition and ensuring that everything is working as it should all year round.

1. Check oil levels

I will hold my hand up here and say this is one of those car maintenance jobs which I just don’t do as often as I know I should, but not refilling oil can have a serious impact on your car.  In fact, I know of someone who had to get a new car after they failed to top up their oil because of the damage done to their engine.  Definitely not something you want to be facing as you set off on holiday!  So it 100% pays to ensure that you are regularly checking oil levels and topping up oil as and when needed.

2. Check radiator and coolant levels

According to statistics, overheating is one of the main causes of car breakdowns over the summer so this is another tip which is vital if you are planning on taking your car for a long drive.  It can feel like something of a faff as you should only check your coolant levels when the engine is cold but this is something which you should do on a regular basis.  If you are having to repeatedly top up your coolant levels then you might have a leak.  Check what type of coolant you should be using in your car as well.

3. Test the brakes

It’s possible I should have popped this one closer to the top as having an issue with your brakes could be incredibly serious if you are driving.  Now I am no car expert but even I know that if you have squeaky brakes, or brakes which grind then you should get your brakes looked at, as it could be a sign that you need your brake fluid topping up, or your brake pads changed.  If your brakes are slow to respond then this could be a sign they are worn down and need replacing.  If you drive the car fairly regularly then this is something to keep an eye out for.  It’s unlikely to catch you by surprise but is something you should keep at the forefront of your mind as you prepare for your road trip.

4. Inspect the tyres

Before setting off on any driving trip, give your tyres a good looking over to ensure that none of them need replacing.  Look closely at the tread (there are loads of guides and handy videos online if this is something you are unsure of) to make sure none of them are worn down, and check tyre pressure.  Good tyre pressure is not only essential for safety but it can save you money on fuel as well, a definite win when you are thinking about travelling long distances.  If your tyres do need replacing then make sure you get it sorted as soon as possible; there are tyres available in all sizes and for cheap prices from Jet Wheel Tyre.

5. Make sure lights are working

My final tip, although there are a good deal more I could have mentioned including air-conditioning, power steering, batteries and so on, is to give the exterior of your car a once over and make sure all your lights are working.  Test your brake lights, your indicators, your tail lights and your headlights.  It is a pretty cheap and easy job to get the lights changed in your car so is definitely something to sort out before you set off, rather than discovering your lights aren’t working on the road.

Hopefully these tips will come in useful this summer and will prompt you to make some safety checks before setting off on your road trip.  The being trapped in the car with children for the duration of your journey I can’t help with…other than to say that being prepared is key.  That, and a good pair of ear-plugs!

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